No Asylum from Microplastics: How Recent Studies May Spark a Flood of Environmental Litigation

In a world where everything is supersized, or perhaps more appropriately venti sized (because let’s be honest, anything less than a venti pumpkin latte is simply not adequate), we tend to overlook what isn’t pronounced. However, recent headlines involving the fate of our littlest constituents remind us that we should be paying more attention to the inconspicuous things in life for, as it turns out, the microsized may be the most threatening. Yes, it is arguably Darwinian to disregard the discreet dangers, ones that we …

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California’s Latest Oil Spill Poses Urgent Energy Questions

Around 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, October 2, 2021, the United States Coast Guard was notified that Amplify Energy’s 17-mile San Pedro Pipeline, off California’s Huntington Beach coastline, was leaking. By Sunday morning, birds and fish were washing up onshore, covered in oil, and the beaches were closed to a concerned public. Days later, there are still more questions than answers about what is already shaping up to be one of California’s largest oil spills in the state’s history, having already resulted in at least …

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Biden Administration Takes Steps to Advance Sustainable Fuel Use in Aviation Industry

In early September, President Biden released a fact sheet describing steps taken by the administration to advance innovation and the use of cleaner and more sustainable fuels in the American aviation industry, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20% by 2030 and reaching a zero-carbon aviation sector by 2050. According to the fact sheet, the aviation industry is responsible for 11% of transportation-related emissions in the United States, with that share expected to increase in the future. Meanwhile, less than 1% …

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The “Green” Fashion Police and the Renaissance of the Fashion Industry

Sustainability is the new black dress in the fashion world. As the need to address climate change becomes more urgent, it is no longer fashion forward, hip, or trendy to walk the red carpet in non-durable apparel/garments. Likewise, designers and textile manufacturers who neglect to embrace the paradigm shift toward making fashion a remedy for climate change will likely be left behind.

The fashion value chain is complex and threatening to the environment, with greenhouse gas emissions generated from the beginning to the end of …

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Ethylene Oxide—Back in the Spotlight with 150 New Lawsuits

Ethylene oxide (EtO) is a chemical long used to sterilize products that cannot be sterilized with steam, such as medical equipment and surgical devices. One of 187 hazardous air pollutants that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates, EtO has been shown to cause various cancers when inhaled over time. In December 2016, the EPA concluded that EtO gas, a human carcinogen, was more dangerous than previously thought, and updated its risk value. Although the EPA subsequently moved to update rules under the Clean Air Act …

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Homeowner Associations in New York to Make Way for Solar Power

Homeowner Associations (HOAs) are given broad authority in New York State to enforce covenants, conditions, and restrictions in efforts to manage a community of homes. Absent an unlawful purpose or improper internal procedures, HOAs have been largely permitted to develop and manage their properties as they deem fit. This broad authority included an HOA’s ability to prohibit a homeowner from installing a solar power system on his or her property. However, as New York continues to adopt various green initiatives, this is set to change.…

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It’s About Time—New York PSC’s New Approval Timeline

Historically, the process to complete large scale utility projects has gone at a deliberate pace. Beyond the traditional issues with any new construction or large scale project, delays were attributed to the extended approval process required by the New York Public Service Commission (PSC). However, on April 3, 2020, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, which “aimed at improving the siting and construction of large-scale renewable energy projects in an environmentally responsible and cost-effective …

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Can “Microrobots” Help Humans Battle Microplastics Pollution?

The presence of microplastics—fragments of plastic smaller than 5 millimeters—is ever increasing across all types of environments, from cities to waterways. Moreover, microplastics do not biodegrade easily; the process can take hundreds of years. The ubiquity of durable microplastics in our environment, and the challenges we face in removing them due to their small size, has resulted in a significant amount of research intended to assess the ways by which microplastics can be eliminated.

A recent study in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the …

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Air Quality Control Board Votes to Cut Emissions in Southern California

Southern California is known for its beautiful beaches, perfect weather, and for being the smoggiest region in the nation. On May 7, 2021, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) passed the Warehouse Indirect Source Rule (Warehouse Rule) in a 9-4 vote in an effort to combat Southern California’s smog problem. The Warehouse Rule is essentially a program that will focus on reducing the exposure of nitrogen oxide and diesel particulate matter in the air over the next three years. Specifically, the Warehouse Rule …

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Can Biofilm Engineering Be Used to Address Microplastics Pollution?

Microplastics, which are fragments of plastic smaller than 5 millimeters, have increasingly been released into the environment over the last several decades—primarily into bodies of water—whether during production, use, or degradation of plastic products. Microplastics have been found in over one hundred aquatic species, in sources of food such as crops, and within large plastic debris piles floating across the ocean. The prevalence of microplastics pollution across ecosystems, exacerbated by the fact that microplastics are not easy to biodegrade, has prompted proposals and passage of …

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